Are you surprised at the quote, and curious why I’m sharing it with you?
This is the greatest lesson I have taken away from one of my guides and teachers, Rod Stryker.
Let me go back a bit… you know that motto “those who can’t do, teach?” Well let me tell you, I believe that to be the biggest load of crap, and it’s all thanks to this quote.
I have two beautiful children, Caitlin our daughter is 22, and Ryan our son is 19. When they were little, Caitlin taught Ryan everything. She taught him how to crawl, play, and walk. She taught him to turn tears into laughter. All at the wise old age of 4.
You see as human beings, we live our lives wanting to share with others. We want to prevent them experiencing things the way that we did. To experience less pain and suffering. In fact, most of us become the person we wished we had supporting us 5 years ago.
Okay, so back to the greatest lesson! My daughter was not successful in teaching Ryan because she had a teaching degree or experience. She was simply sharing her experience, she believed he could, and because of her, he did too.
Teaching is sharing, and believing wholly that the true guru lives within the student. Great teachers hold space for the student to discover for themselves. They are a stand of confidence for the student, even when they don’t have it for themselves. They are a place of loving kindness, and boldness.
What I learned, is to be this for someone else, I must first learn to give it to myself! This is what he is saying, we don’t need more teachers. We need more people who practice themselves, sharing their experiences authentically. Not to feed their own ego. Not to prove they themselves have value or are enough.
Great teachers are a space for the student to find the TRUE GURU, within themselves.
I have had so many incredible teachers, mentors and people who have influenced my life. Each of them has been a unique gift. They are the shining light that has shared so authentically with me, that their words still ring in my ears, often just when I need them most.
This is why I wanted to share with you some common mistakes our students and teachers have shared with us.
1. Price shopping instead of instructor shopping
As the saying goes, you get what you pay for! When it comes to education, your teachers experience in their field and as an teacher makes a big difference. The school you choose should be transparently sharing with your at minimum their lead teacher experience.
As the founder of the Life of Wellness Institute, and lead teacher I have been practicing yoga for 30 years. My first 200 hour training was when I was 16, at the time it was a gift from my teacher to support me in surviving and thriving after being sexually assaulted. I have completed over 1200 hours in training, and over 5000 hours teaching. I am an ICF certified transformational coach specializing in trauma, depression, anxiety, and stress (29 years), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapist (10 years), AromaTherapist (5 years), Thai Massage Therapist (3 years), Yoga Therapist (3 years).
2. Not knowing if your Yoga School is a certified school with the Yoga Alliance and what that means for you.
The Yoga Alliance® is the largest nonprofit association representing the yoga community. Their mission is to promote and support the integrity and diversity of the teaching of yoga.
In most studios around the world today, registration and membership with the YA is required to teach with them. To have this open to you, including travelling to teach all across the world, your training needs to be completed in a YA Registered Yoga School (RYS).
At the Life of Wellness Institute we are registered with the Yoga Alliance. The Canadian Yoga Alliance, which is the Canadian equivalent. The Natural Health Practitioners of Canada. And more, click this link to check out our professional membership page listing all of our affiliations and registrations.
3. Not knowing how much time you are spending with the senior teacher.
If you haven’t already heard, this year the Yoga Alliance improved the standards for RYS’s (registered yoga schools). Starting Feb of 2022 all Yoga Alliance certified schools will be required to have 150 of your 200 hours taught in person by the senior teacher. This is a BIG change from the 65 hours that was previously expected, and that many schools are still teaching from. In fact a growing option is doing the entire 200 hours online, with NO face to face teacher time. UGH (Click here to find out more)
At the Life of Wellness Institute, ALL of your time is with me directly. That’s right ALL 195 classroom hours, and 1 additional hour 1:1. (You remaining hours are in community teaching as part of your practicum). When I founded the school I did it from my 30 years of teaching experience! Discovery based learning is based on your ability to experience, ask questions, and observe. This is why I opened our school with these standards!
4. The school hasn’t shared their lineage with you, and you don’t know the benefits, or limitations of it.
You want to know where your teacher trained, so that you know and understand the foundation of what you are being taught, and where it comes from.
It is important that the lineage and beliefs are in alignment with what you are creating! Also you want to be able to share this going forward as a teacher! So many teachers and school hide this information. Honestly I don’t get why! It matters for your future!
At the Life of Wellness Institute, we have great gratitude to our teachers, mentors, guides, and influencers’. I want you to know exactly what we are about because it matters to us that you are able to share this with the world!
I initially trained in 1990 in Hatha Yoga in Vancouver BC. I was 16 at the time, and basically I did it for me, I had no intention of becoming a teacher. I will openly share with you that the school was not Yoga Alliance registered, and the school no longer exists. At the time I didn’t know anything about the Yoga Alliance or lineage, I just needed help and I found it. I have great love for the teacher there who gifted me my training, she did so with loving kindness for a lost and broken 16 year old. In many ways she saved my life.
For the next 10 years I focused on my personal practice taking workshops, reading and attending retreats. Some years later I would deepened my person practice with Denise Holden in Cranbrook BC, and this is where I began to be curious about teaching. Her Hatha lineage stems from Integral Yoga with Sri Swami Satchidananda. Fun Fact, this is the teacher who taught Yoga at Woodstock, and yes I wish I had experienced that! This lineage stems from Sivananda, and Vishwananda Saraswati.
I continued my Hatha practice for 26 years. During this time I advanced my education by diving down the rabbit hole with teachers such as Rod Stryker, Gary Kraftsow (where I discovered ViniYoga), and many more. I also began my journey with Mindfulness based living and took training with Jon Kabat-Zinn. (The American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.)
Then in 2016 I took an Embodiment Yoga 200 hour training with Stef Wilton , where I continued to complete and be certified as Yoga Therapist and Thai Massage Therapist. I also dove deeper with Gary Kraftsow. (A pioneer in the transmission of yoga for health, healing and personal transformation for over 40 years and is known as a leading expert in Yoga Therapy. He began his study of yoga and Yoga Therapy in India with T.K.V. Desikachar, in 1974 and received a Viniyoga Special Diploma from Viniyoga International in Paris, France in 1988.)
Our teacher training program, has been created from all of my experience as a student, a coach, mindfulness based stress reduction therapist, and as a yogi. It is founded in the teachings of ViniYoga. We believe in this individualized style of yoga (also called Vinyasa Krama Yoga), which was initially developed by Tirumalai Krishnamacharya and taught by his son T. K. V. Desikachar.
Through the 4 pillars of ViniYoga, you will be able to support yourself, your loved ones, your students and your individual clients with a practice that is individualized for them! To support EXACTLY what they are experiencing. You will be prepared to modify the practice for injuries, contraindications (symptom or condition), and pain.
Should you choose to continue your development, you are set up powerfully with the foundations of Yoga Therapy, and so much more!
5. Beware of false claims! Due your due diligence
All through the world today there is a shift in morality and integrity that is being led by ego and fear. This is also a BIG part of what Rod Stryker is saying in his quote. Living a yogic lifestyle comes with many teachings, and many translations and perspectives on what they mean.
As human beings it takes something to look past our view of things and see them clearly as they are. Honestly, I actually believe it isn’t possible. You see, our eyes don’t see, our ears don’t listen and then we see what they see. What is actually happening in that our senses send our brain a message, it then filters through what it knows to figure out what we are seeing.
This doesn’t mean I have given myself a pass, in fact it means that I am actively and daily challenging my views, beliefs, behaviors and most importantly, my integrity. One way I do this is through the 10 pillars of wisdom from the Yoga Sutras (Click here to read more on Yoga Journal). I am in no way perfect, and I don’t believe that perfection is a goal. At the same time I do believe in integrity. To me this means doing what I say I will do and when I said I would. It means doing what is expected of me. It means authentically cleaning up when I am out of integrity!
Unfortunately the world is how the world is. I can only be who I am being and be an example of what I want to see in the world. I am saddened by seeing the lack of integrity in the world, and the impact it has. So here are some things you can watch for.
i. Look for things being trademarked and copyrighted. Are they actually their original idea? Are they even actually a real trademark or copyright? There is one such school in my history, their page is filled with TM signals next to single words and claims of being the originator. This is a perfect thing to watch for. Words are not even eligible for copyright or trademark.
Even Krishnamacharya, the often called “father of yoga” did not discover Yoga alone. He had an Ayurvedic doctor, he was influenced by his environment, experiences. He had many great teachers. So here is the truth… Yoga is not mine. I did not create it, I have not made it better. What I do have is my own unique way of sharing it with you, because I am unique. Not in a special way, or a guru way. Simply as a result of being a human being, just like you. What I do have is over 30 years experience as a teacher, mentor, coach, guide, student, and as a yogi. I have worked with thousands of students and clients over the years, and all of that time as both the teacher, AND the student.
ii. Look for claims that they are the “originator”, “designer” or “developer” of Yoga, Yoga Therapy, Thai Yoga Massage, Thai Massage. Honestly it is shocking to me how many of these claims are made. They are literally banking on you not checking. Take a peak at the lineage chart I shared in number 4, it is a representation of the history of Yoga. While I am certain it is not complete, it will allow you to see when “new styles” of yoga has arisen AND who their teachers are, and their teacher’s teacher.
Integrity is not something we are born with! It is a CREATED act over and over again. Naturally as human beings we are wired to take the easy route, the path of least resistance. This easily and sometimes even subconsciously gets in the way of living with integrity, seeing and dealing with the impact of our lack of integrity, and restoring our integrity back to our whole and complete self.
Part of me being a stand for integrity includes being open to what is happening in the Yoga Community. I do this to protect you, to stand for something different from my experience, and I also do it to be a stand for change. I know I am not alone, the Yoga Alliance has been working hard to make this change in the world as well. Take a moment and look at the Yoga Alliance ethical standards they have recently updated.
And for those who may be engaging in these behaviors, the best part of being a human being is the opportunity to choose. We get to choose in every breath who we are being. The ancient wisdom of the Yoga Sutras and the 10 pillars of wisdom begin with the following three ways of living;
Ahimsa, reminding us to not harm ourselves or others. Satya, reminding us to be truthful, not just telling the truth, but challenging the “truth” that our brain feeds us. Asteya, reminding us to not lay claim to something that is not ours, non-stealing.